GS Paper 3
Syllabus: e-Technology in the aid of farmers
Context: According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), agricultural automation might exacerbate inequality if technology is inaccessible to small-scale producers and other marginalised groups.
Agriculture automation covers all the practices that help with planting and harvesting with the aid of machines and other devices.
Background: The recently released FAO’S State of Food and Agriculture report 2022 looked at how agricultural automation (which includes anything from tractors to artificial intelligence) in our agri-food systems can contribute to achieving sustainable development goals.
Highlights of the report:
- Agricultural automation plays an important role in making food production more efficient and environmentally friendly.
- However, it can also deepen inequalities if it remains inaccessible to small-scale producers and other marginalised groups.
- Agricultural automation can lead to unemployment in places where rural labour is abundant and wages are low.
- There are wide disparities in the spread of automation between and within countries, with adoption being particularly limited in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, Japan had more than 400 tractors per 1,000 hectares of arable land, compared with just 0.4 in Ghana in 2005.
Recommendations given in the report on how to minimise risks:
- Sustainable rental mechanisms are key for aiding mechanisation in regions with poor agri-automation.
- Policymakers should avoid subsidising automation in labour-abundant regions. They should focus on creating an enabling environment for adopting automation.
- Social protection should be provided to the least skilled workers, who are more likely to lose their jobs during the transition.
- Without technological progress and increased productivity, there is no possibility of lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.
- Hence, it is the need of the hour to ensure that automation takes place in a way that is inclusive and promotes sustainability.